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Soyuz landing capsule safely brings ISS trio back to Earth (PHOTOS)

Soyuz landing capsule safely brings ISS trio back to Earth (PHOTOS)
The Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft has safely touched down in the Kazakhstan steppes carrying three International Space Station (ISS) crew members who spent the last several days carrying out experiments and tests in orbit.

Russian cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin, American Nick Hague, and the first Emirati astronaut, Hazzaa al-Mansoori – all members of Expedition 60 – departed the ISS earlier on Thursday aboard the Soyuz spacecraft.

Roscosmos and NASA mission control centers observed the capsule as it left orbit and started rapid descent into the lower atmosphere. Several kilometers above the desolate steppes of northern Kazakhstan, it deployed parachutes, lowering airspeed and struggling against gravity.

Shortly after the Soyuz reached the surface, the capsule was unsealed and the space trio was evacuated by a rescue team.

Ovchinin, Hague, and Al-Mansoori docked at the ISS on September 25, spending over a week in space. The space station is now manned by Russian, American, and Italian crew members.

The smooth landing was watched closely as it comes on the heels of technical failures that have tarnished the Soyuz program. Last October, Ovchinin and Hague experienced a mid-flight issue shortly after take-off, and initiated an emergency landing at over 50 kilometers (31 miles).

The spaceship’s emergency system worked flawlessly and both landed unharmed. Fellow astronauts that witnessed the aborted lift-off from aboard the ISS praised the Soyuz’s reliability and thanked the rescue workers who promptly arrived at the landing site.

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